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By: Rich Hansen, MMATorch Columnist
In case you didn't know – and judging by the ratings, the lowest rated MMA event in network television history, you didn't - the UFC had a very successful night of fights on Fox last weekend. And it's a crying shame, since the UFC really hit a home run on Saturday night. Nate Diaz emerged as a legitimate threat at 155, and would have emerged as a star had anyone tuned in. Alan Belcher had a breakthrough performance by dismantling Rousimar Palhares on the mat, not that anyone saw it. And, well, you get the point.
Let's take a peek forward and see what's in the cards for the fighters who thrilled us on Saturday night (and John Cholish).
Nate Diaz: This one's easy. He's getting a title shot. It's already been announced. The only question is if he leapfrogs Frankie Edgar. There is no credible information to think that Edgar is getting bypassed, and Diaz is on record saying he needs to take some time off, so there ya go. Next fight: Ben Henderson or Frankie Edgar for the UFC Lightweight title. (God forbid Henderson vs. Edgar goes to a draw, ends in a NC, or is a fight of the year)
Jim Miller: There's no shame in having four career losses, and having them be to Edgar, Maynard, Henderson, and Diaz. However, while there's no shame in that, there's no path to a title shot in that, either. Next fight: Gray Maynard vs. Clay Guida loser(Likely Guida)
Johny Hendricks: Hendricks thinks he's waiting for a title shot. Because that works out so well for everyone who takes that course. Can we finally learn from the Ghosts of Lost Title Shots Past that waiting for a title shot is not only a bad idea, but guarantees you nothing? Please? Next fight: Jake Ellenberger-Martin Kampmann winner. Figure that the winner of that fight faces Hendricks on the same card as GSP vs. Condit, and the winners of those two fights will square off in Spring 2013.
Josh Koscheck: Koscheck is one eyepoke away from becoming Uma Thurman, and his next opponent must fear becoming Daryl Hannah. Risking the welfare of his fellow competitors aside, Koscheck is still relevant, and deserves a fight against a top 10 guy. Next fight: Jake Ellenberger/Martin Kampmann loser. Presuming it's Kampmann, that's a really good fight.
Alan Belcher: I have no idea what to do with the jumble at middleweight. I think if Bisping beats Boetsch, the Brit is getting a title shot; a title shot that will be the least deserved title shot since Nathan Quarry, but that's neither here nor there. I think they'll pair Belfort with the winner of Munoz and Weidman, leaving Belcher to fight the winner of Lombard-Stann, or Yushin Okami (he's not losing to Banha Cane). Since it's possible Lombard will be thrust into title contention, I think we're going to see Belcher have to jump through some hurdles. Next fight: Yushin Okami.
Rousimar Palhares: Every time Palhares gets a chance to break through the glass ceiling, the ceiling is revealed to be cast iron, not glass. I love the idea of Cung Le vs. Palhares, but that ain't happening. I could see either the loser of Bisping vs. Boetsch, or the loser of Vitor Belfort vs. Wanderlei Silva. Assuming Silva avoids a mandatory retirement, I think Palhares vs. Silva is a good fight. After all, Silva would only be risking leg trauma and not additional brain trauma in a scrap with Paul Harris. Next fight: Wanderlei Silva.
Lavar Johnson: Let's everybody just calm down for a minute here. He beat Pat Barry, and he lost to Shawn Jordan not too long ago. #RallyForBigJohnson is about 42 times further from relevance then #RallyForMarkHunt ever was, ok? People are forecasting Johnson vs. the winner of Hunt vs. Struve, but that's too high up the ladder for him yet. Not that he can't win, but he isn't worthy of that shot, yet. If Stipe Miocic beats Shane del Rosario, that's the fight to make. If not, give him the winner of Roy Nelson vs. Dave Herman. So, forecasting a little bit here, I see: Next fight: Roy Nelson.
Pat Barry: There is a legitimate chance he gets cut. Assuming his name, and fan loyalty, keep him employed, he's in a tough spot. You don't want to put a name like Pat Barry in against Rob Broughton, Phil DeFries, or Chad Griggs, although he was pit against Christian Morecraft not too long ago. I'd like to see him against Matt Mitrione, but I have no idea if he'd fight his old Duke Roufus buddy, and I don't know when Mitrione is returning. So, big power against bad chin works for me. Next fight: Brendan Schaub.
Other Fights to Make:
John Hathaway vs. Siyar Bahadurzada
John Dodson vs. Louis Gaudinot
Michael Johnson vs. Danny Castillo
Tony Ferguson vs. Sam Stout
Pascal Kraus vs. Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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Frank Hyden - Rich Hansen
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